A slew of legislators just spoke on the Senate floor to honor the late Sen. Mike Carrell – making it clear that the Lakewood Republican’s death last week leaves big shoes to fill. Someone could go to Olympia as soon as Tuesday to try to fill them.
The Pierce County Council’s rules committee decided today to fast-track the appointment, calling a special meeting at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday where the council would interview three candidates and consider an emergency resolution to appoint one of the trio.
Local Republicans and anti-tax activist Tim Eyman had urged speedy action, fearing that Democrats would take advantage of a 24-24 tie in the Senate that leaves Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, a Democrat, as the potential tie-breaker.
GOP precinct-committee officers from the 28th District chose former Councilman Dick Muri as their top choice for the job, with state Rep. Steve O’Ban and University Place city councilman Javier Figueroa as runners-up. The council can pick any of the three to serve until a special election in November 2014.
Republicans control the county council. Democratic Pierce County Councilman Rick Talbert said he has questions about whether an emergency action is needed, especially after there was no comparable haste in January when the council jointly appointed a new senator with the Kitsap County Commission.
Republican Council Chairwoman Joyce McDonald said she was personally inclined to follow the regular process but said the council was deluged with requests from 28th district residents to act fast. She said the appointment is different from the one early in the regular legislative session because this one comes as a critical time in budget negotiations.
It had been unclear whether Democrats would be willing and able to take advantage of the tie, given the procedural hurdles and the perception that they would be exploiting a colleague’s death — but in any case, such a move now seems unlikely.
Senate Democrats’ leader, Ed Murray, said they ”certainly considered it,” with some of their members convinced that it would be preferable to a government shutdown that could loom if no budget deal is struck by July 1. But Murray said such a move doesn’t seem possible in the next 24 hours.